By BRIAN RAMSEY | OBU Sports Network
LITTLE ROCK — The list of accolades for Ouachita Baptist University’s TJ Cole continues to grow with his recent selection as the winner of the Darren McFadden Award, presented annually to the state of Arkansas’ best running back.
The Little Rock Touchdown Club will honor Cole and many other award winners for their respective achievements this Friday, January 13 with its annual awards luncheon. The featured guest speaker at the event will be Joe Theismann, Super Bowl XVII champion quarterback and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. The luncheon is scheduled for 11:15 a.m. this Friday at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Little Rock. Tickets are available to the public online at www.lrtouchdown.com.
Cole will be joined by teammate Peyton Stafford at the luncheon. Stafford, who was one of the nation’s top offensive linemen for the past two years, has been chosen as Ouachita’s most valuable player for the 2022 season.
Cole and Stafford are both coming off highly-decorated campaigns in their final run at Ouachita. The duo earned All-America honors after leading the Tigers to their 14th consecutive winning season with a final record of 11-1, highlighted by an undefeated regular season, a Great American Conference Championship, and an appearance in the NCAA Division II playoffs. Ouachita also reached its highest-ever national ranking in 2022, climbing to No. 3.
Cole finished fifth this year in the voting for the Harlon Hill Trophy, which is presented to the most outstanding player at the NCAA Division II level, the equivalent of D1’s Heisman Trophy. The Texarkana, Texas native broke Ouachita records this year in single-season rushing yards (1,672), single-season rushing touchdowns (26), and career rushing touchdowns (49).
Stafford was a nominee for the Gene Upshaw D2 Lineman of the Year Award this year, and was also selected as a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, awarded the college football’s premier scholar athlete. The Amarillo, Texas native has served as a team captain for the past two seasons, and has been a key factor in Ouachita’s offense staying in the top 10 of many national stat categories each season.
The Darren McFadden Award is in honor of the former Arkansas Razorback All-America running back, who had a 10-year career in the National Football League with the Oakland Raiders and the Dallas Cowboys.